Whole Class Instruction in Studying Author's Craft and Intent (5-8)

in this mini lesson Cortney teaches her sixth graders to ratchet up the level of their endings by studying a mentor text and making reading writing connections she helps the students study the mentor memoir asking them to think about what the authors really trying to say in the entire piece and then how the ending supports that this work is aligned to the sixth-grade narrative writing standards which asks students to be able to write endings that follow from the narrated experiences or events and it also reaches towards a seventh grade standard which asks them to write endings that reflect on the entire text meanwhile because she's asking them to think about what the author of the mentor text has done and how that advances the central meaning of the text she's also supporting anchor reading standard number six the students are thinking about how the author's purposes shaped the language of the text the students read the text closely underlining and citing parts of it and Courtney raises the level of dlk work by pushing writers to transfer what they've noticed as readers into another curriculum area writing after the main lesson Courtney disperses with her students sending them off to work on revising their own memoir and also making sure that they really make sure to convey what they want to convey as she moves among the students conferring and leading small group works she's able to assess the extent to which they've grasped what she's trying to teach the writing workshop will end with students showing partners ways in which they've revised their own writing so guys we've been in this sort of unit on memoir for a couple of weeks not weeks now this you know on narrative writing and you've sort of been like giving these pieces everything you've got right like just laboring over them making them sort of worthy of being your last sixth-grade publish making them worthy of showing how much you've grown right so there are some things that we've been sort of trying and I looked at your drafts last night noticing that they're much better than when you first started this work and there's some specific like things you've tried out I'm going to list some of those things can you just sort of thumbs up if you feel like oh I've tried that okay one of the things that I'm noticing is that you are playing around with structure right today's like I'm doing that you're not just writing memoir you're not just putting essay in but you're sort of blending the non narrative and the narrative text together have you tried that yeah okay the other thing that I'm noticing is that you're sort of writing these pieces with your audience like on your shoulder thinking how is my reader gonna take this in right how is my reader gonna get this line how is my reader gonna understand what I want them to understand have you been sort of purposeful with that right okay then the other thing that I'm noticing is that you've been kind of crafty right it hasn't been just putting any old thing on the page but you're combining like metaphors with action and dialogue and inner thinking to sort of make your writing sound magical have you been a little more precise with your language do you feel a little more yeah right can you think in your mind just think of like the biggest thing you've done in this unit to sort of outgrow yourself to get better and then can you just turn and tell that to your partner I'm working on my actions so that the reader can visually see what's going on in my story and then be gonna like I put how I felt when my I had died on the first paragraph and then I moved to the first moment at Thanksgiving when I'm throwing them at the table saying happy birthday to me and like how happy I felt but I didn't awesome someone's gonna leave my side so the second moment was at Christmas when auntie mighty is in the hospital and I'm just saying people who crowd around the same table as Thanksgiving and she was in a hospital slowly dying everyone else was at the table in her house having fun and stuff and then the last moment was just like a plane all day without your money playing hide the seat and and she said you seem hungry are you hungry I was like no but she made like she did something that like no one else could do there's a lot of different things that you're sort of trying out when you're writing these talks that are combining the narrative and the non narrative but there's also this thing that I've been noticing but I think we still can work on before we publish and the thing is that I'm looking sort of at your endings in your draft and I'm noticing that your ending but you haven't really written an ending that sort of lingers right and so I want to teach you today that when really professional memoirists when they write the endings of their piece they strive to write the sort of ending that like lingers with you long after the readers put the piece down okay that has the reader thinking about what you wrote hours later okay I think those are the sorts of endings that were ready to sort of reach for and write today and I want to share one memoir with you that I think has this sort of ending so you know that we've been using this mentor text the one by Adam it's the one where his brother whose older brother's leaving for college and in his memoir Adam is sort of owning up to the fact that he's not gonna be there anymore that there's this person that sort of gonna be leaving his life in a way I want to read you just the ending of this piece okay the car pulled down the driveway I knew my childhood with my brother was ending this very moment my brother opened the sunroof and waved his hand I waved back even though he probably couldn't see me the car made a left and climb the hill till it was out of sight I walked to the end of the driveway to see if I could get a last glimpse of the car I knew John was moving on it will only be a matter of time before he's graduated college gets married has kids I stood there for a minute then slowly made my way back up the driveway I remembered I was holding John to Penn hat and I put it on backwards just as he always did I walked into his room sat on his bed squeezed his pillow and looked for any sign that John was once there I picked up John's bassoon and put each piece together the way John had taught me I went over to the chair John always sat on when he played and I played the deep sound I had heard coming from his room so many times right so that piece just sort of like the way that ending is written it's stuck in your brain it's just sort of stuck there I wonder if you and your partner could look at this piece again even more critically digging like even deeper into it I snuck a copy of it into your folder so when I say go again can you take it out and with your partner can you look at it sort of marking it up and then also sort of saying what the author did to make this ending linger I wonder – writers I know there are like specific lines in there if there's a specific line that sort of jumps out at you like this is it this is the line that made the ending of this story or this memoir so good can you underline that sort of seeing it to each other sort of citing that line almost okay uses an object to show his connection so when you're talking about that can you sort of use the technical term that he really used that as a symbol right he's using that instrument as a symbol his brother is gone but they're just like pieces of the brother still around right okay what else about that line or what in addition about that line as we do that for any size like John but John read that last part it looks for any sign that John was once there right what's significant about the pens happen just like his brother Ned right there's something else he did just like his brother did or just like his brother had taught him I wonder if that's like a repeated line we could try in our what lines give you that feeling it's that tone listen I know my childhood with my father was ending this very moment because his father was leaving so I guess that he like he wasn't gonna be complete without his brother his life let's underline that cuz that is definitely a line here that gives us this sort of tone of sadness with loss in a way what our other line I squeezed this pillow and look for any sign that John was once there there's something to de bout that John was once there he's looking for signs of his brother for singles I don't remember him yeah and then he knew that John was losing honor which also make him sort of sad ok and the partner he said I picked up John's persona and put each piece together the way John taught me let's talk about that for soon for a second why is that sort of significant in this piece is like silouette still party yeah John was still like there at the house so what if he's not physically there like something that symbolizes it I think he left for him to like to remember him that yeah there were some pieces of Don that sort of got left behind for him it's not just the bassoon right now once you think about the ending of your own piece that you're sort of planning in your head now what might you try in your own writing that you've taken from here and be like specific to your piece then you feel ready you can share since that's often put in the water emotion incident then it was going to put emotions for the Eddie Matthew's better I'm going to try am i – um – like the five moments where I was like gonna wanna house looking for things that my dad had left all right hit what kind of things like um just stuff that he bought me and like his um his caps mm-hmm your pieces that part about the picture how you serve take out the picture and so that's almost what this offer did here – okay so there might be other objects you put the inner thinking which would he gave it a really big touch in I think that's why the story the nd came together so well and then I also think the bassoon was a really big part of the year and it symbolized the like the moment to him and that him and his brother John had like that deep mournful song we said remembering the time for his brother had played that mournful sound coming out of the room and I think that's why the bassoon has such a strong part in creating the ending about what the persona is the part that ties the piece really ties the piece together because if you really think about it like in the night in a movie where the credits are rolling the music that's right that's the part that really gets you in their last tone like wow that was a good movie and when you hear that partly says the deep more phone sound which I we try to think like try to think wow that was a really good memoir and the way he tied it together it just made it like all the more different from any other memory today when you go back to your seats and you're ready to sort of write these endings that stick with you that stick with the reader way beyond when they were holding your text I want you to keep that mentor in mind I do want you to think what can I sort of steal from the author what can I get from what that author did is they were writing that I could maybe use in my piece okay off you go

1 thought on “Whole Class Instruction in Studying Author's Craft and Intent (5-8)

  1. Great model lesson! Lots of take aways – in particular I Love the ways the educator evokes conversations about symbolism while guiding students to making connections and tying their literary pieces together more carefully.

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